He was sitting on a bench in a playground. The sun beat down, but instead of the burning and headache the sun normally evoked, it bathed him in a comfortable warmth for the first time in memory. He closed his eyes and leaned back, basking in the sun’s rays; he had almost forgotten.
A touch at his shoulder. Lastor looked down, seeing Audrey laying on him comfortably, her head on his shoulder. Her eyes came up and she smiled, sliding her hand into his and lacing their fingers together as her eyes returned to the playground. Lastor’s followed.
A little girl stood atop the slide, apparently steeling herself. Shutting her eyes, she pushed herself down the chute, her mouth open in a squeal of delight. She landed on her feet smoothly and her eyes shone like twin stars as she beamed at them, the telltale crimson gleam in those eyes that so resembled Audrey’s barely noticeable.
Lastor awoke with a start, his sheets soaked in sweat. His jaw was sore. He had obviously been clenching it while dreaming. So close… he grimaced, rubbing his jaw. Their last kiss was so long ago he didn’t remember it. How was he supposed to dream of it?
Pushing himself to his feet, he went to the window, looking out over the darkened city with its thousands of burning lights. He remembered, fresh amid the fog his recollections had often become, hunting with her one night, though it seemed like forever ago. They had been in the woods, stalking deer just for sport, having fed well of lowlife scum earlier. She had been tracking the animal through a thicket of trees, sticking to the shadows as it fed in a moonlit clearing, gray in the light. The deer had raised its head and Audrey had stopped, dead still amid the trees and shadow. After a cursory scan, the deer resumed its feeding. With a gleeful grin on her face, had Audrey turned from her target and grinned at Lastor. The angle of the moon fell into her eyes, igniting a tiny spark there which Lastor was sure he could have seen for miles. Now, fresh from the dream, staring into the glistening stars, it was like staring in to her eyes a thousand times over. The look on her face as she smiled at him in the moonlight would not leave his mind.
Out of habit, Lastor absentmindedly reached for the half empty bottle of brown liquid on the table before the mirror. His fingers knocked over a dirty glass which had been discharged from active duty after the first fifth had been consumed and he cursed before closing his hand around the bottle’s no longer comforting neck. He swallowed a mouthful, grimaced, and swallowed another. Reaching to a drawer in the table, he took out a half full pack of cigarettes and tweezed one out with a long nail. A match lit the hollows of his face for a brief moment, illuminating his sunken eyes.
Lastor opened up the window and leaned out, breathing the smoggy night sky in to his lungs along with the nicotine, relishing its coolness. He stared blankly at the skyline, at the jutting skyscrapers biting into the sky like teeth. Reaching out, searching…but as usual there was nothing there. Just a blank emptiness where Audrey used to be. Rage rose inside him, white hot and fast. Snatching the bottle up again, Lastor first drained it then shattered it against the windowsill, sending glass raining down on the street onto the heads of those passing by. Holding the bottle by the neck he stabbed the jagged edge at his arm and dragged it upward. Blood erupted from the cut, running down his fingers and dripping onto the floor. Lastor sighed as the endorphins flooded in as well as the fiery pain.
The blood dripping from his fingertips began to slow. By morning there wouldn’t even be a scar, just a dull ache. But the pain was there, beneath the cells that were beginning to knit together slowly, microscopically. He focused on the pain, nurturing it, encouraging it, letting it fill the space occupied by Audrey’s eyes, the emotional pain finally giving way to a more present physical sensation. His eyes fell to the scarlet puddle soaking in amid the hundreds of stains in the cheap motel carpet, the lit cigarette he had dropped in his rage smoldering its legacy into the fibers until it was snuffed out by his foot.
Lastor looked at the moon. It was low in the sky, enough for it to be about ten o’clock. He cursed softly to himself as he pulled a shirt over his pale body and dragged his long black coat over his shoulder. His arm still throbbed, just enough to prevent his mind from focusing obsessively on anything else. Success.
Stepping to the window, Lastor climbed out onto the fire escape, dropping the last twenty feet or so to land soundlessly in the alley. A bum slept nearby, grunting in his sleep, a loaf of moldy bread and a bottle of Jack Daniels in his hands, oblivious to the glass from Lastor’s window which covered him. Lastor paused long enough to relieve the derelict of his beverage and set off down the alley, moving deeper in to the darkness, following the moon.
Hours later, Lastor felt nothing. He had sat in a seedy strip club so long that the bartender had told him to order from the bar, buy a lap dance, or get the fuck out. A bartender’s broken nose and some violence later, security had been summoned to come throw him out, only to be knocked hard against the wall. Now, having relieved several more homeless of their liquid comforts as well as an opium fiend of his fix, he was comfortably numb again, acting on instinct – hunting. Even his arm felt better.